Economist and Nobel laureate Robert Shiller doesn’t think this is the end of the market’s free fall, and he warns that the coronavirus isn’t the only epidemic creating vulnerability on Wall Street and in the economy.
“This narrative has been quite striking. It’s a dangerous time for the stock market.”
In fact, Shiller doesn’t think the coronavirus is even close to peaking in the U.S. yet.
“This disease is contagious even before it shows obvious symptoms. So it’s going to be harder to quarantine people in this epidemic,” Shiller said in a Monday interview on CNBC’s “Trading Nation.” “That’s the narrative, and we haven’t gotten very far into it yet. So the potential for market disruption because of a scary narrative is quite high.”
Shiller, who is a professor at Yale University, said there are actually two epidemics hammering the markets: the coronavirus and fear surrounding the virus.
“What we have now is really two epidemics. We have an epidemic of the coronavirus, but we also have an epidemic of fear based around a narrative that is not necessarily keeping up with scientific reality,” Shiller argued. “This narrative has been quite striking.
“It’s a dangerous time for the stock market.”
It makes sense that Shiller has made this connection given his background in studying behavioral economics, which looks at how emotions weigh on financial decisions.
Shiller thinks the effects of these two epidemics are already showing — and it’s going to lead to a recession.
“It’s highly likely now that we’ll have a recession,” he said. “It’s already disrupting business. It’s already causing people to pull back. We’re not going to see creative new investments blossom in this environment.”
Monday’s pullback was the worst day witnessed in the markets since 2008. All three major U.S. indexes fell more than 7%, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average suffering its worst point loss ever after giving up 2,013 points.
Shiller has warned in the past that market crashes can become a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy because people hype them up so much until they finally happen. And he doesn’t think it’s going to get any better even if the coronavirus fears subside a bit.
“We’ll see how well the measures to reduce the coronavirus epidemic play out. But I wouldn’t put too much hope in that,” Shiller said. “It’s a dangerous epidemic and the epidemic of fear that accompanies it is dangerous also.”
Editor’s note: What do you think? Will the markets return to their all-time highs when the coronavirus goes away? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.